Our Board of Directors 2015-2016

Executive Committee

kc_newChair: KC Sato
KC Sato currently specializes in market research. He has been involved with Tonari Gumi since 1998 as a former staff, volunteer, and Director. A yonsei from Kelowna, he resides in Burnaby with his wife and two daughters.


Vice-Chair: Heidi Hamano
Immigrated to Canada 22 years ago.  Has been active volunteer for the Family Drop In program for the last four years.  Currently working as the only Japanese Accredited Mortgage Professional at TMG The Mortgage Group, the biggest independent mortgage firm in Western Canada.  Previously worked for a Japanese Chemical Film Manufacturing firm, assuming the responsibility of General Manager overseeing sales and marketing activities in Europe & North America.  Obtained Executive Sales and Marketing Diploma from UBC Sauder Business School.  Resides in Burnaby.  Hobbies are exercising and exploring different cuisines.

Sanae_picTreasurer: Sanae Sakamoto
Born in Japan and came to Canada after having worked in Japan for over 20 years. Studied accounting in London, Ontario and Victoria, B.C. moved to Vancouver due to work. Currently on the staff of a local charitable music organization. Having been the beneficiary of the actions of many individuals some of whom whose names I do not know or whom I will never meet, I decided that I needed to give something back to the community. It was when I was thinking in this way that a friend referred me to Tonari Gumi and I agreed to stand as a director.

Secretary: Derek Imai
Raised in Greenwood, BC, Derek grew up in a bi-cultural home with Steveston-born Nisei parents (dad was interned in Greenwood and mom stranded in Japan after Pearl Harbour). Derek was always interested in his Japanese heritage. His first encounter with Japan was at 19 when he spent 18 days at a danjiki dohjoh in the mountains of Nara. After graduating from UBC with a teaching degree he went to Gunma Prefecture to teach English. Enjoying Japanese culture and life he moved to Tokyo to study Japanese and work. After 3 years living in the dynamic & energetic city he returned to Canada. Now teaching ESL and students with learning disabilities in Surrey, Derek has become a volunteer with Tonari Gumi to connect with the local Nikkei community.

Secretary: Michael Sakamoto
Montreal born and raised Sansei. Upon graduation from McGill University, spent 5 wonderful years working in Africa. This was followed by a 32 year career with the federal government which included self-government and treaty negotiations. Now retired and enjoying lots of walking, golf and skiing.


Joji Kumagai (s)Joji Kumagai
Second generation Nisei whose parents emigrated to Canada in the 1960’s from Sapporo. Graduated from SFU with a degree in ecological science and toxicology. Traveled to Japan in 2001 and subsequently worked for 2 years in Japan in the JET program. Became a Tonari Gumi staff member in 2006 and then from 2007-2010 was the executive director. In order to continue contributing, became a board member even after resigning from the staff.

Patrick Li
Born in Hong Kong but lived in Japan from the age of 9 since his father owned a trading company in Kobe. In 1981, emigrated to Vancouver and joined Mitsui Canada as a steel trader in their Vancouver steel department. Patrick’s wife, Tomoko, became involved with Tonari Gumi in 1982 and Patrick would assist whenever he could. Upon retiring from Mitsui in 2010, he agreed to join the TG Board. His hobbies include playing squash, swimming, roller blading, skiing, listening to music, photography, and traveling.

Chuichi Chris Nakahori
Born and raised in Japan. I moved to Canada in 1968 as a student. Received Immigrant status in 1970 and partnered in many businesses. Since 1999 I have been actively involved in Seaborn Enterprises. One of the hobbies I have been enjoying since 1973 is being part of the chorus group, “Sakura Singers” I was elected as one of their Directors last year.


Rocky Norihide OzakiRocky
Is a Nisei born in Vancouver (raised in North Delta) who studied for a year in Japan as a 19-year old. He is a senior level HR practitioner who currently works for a start-up technology company while maintaining his HR consulting business. Rocky is passionate about preserving and celebrating the Japanese heritage.


Lurana Kikuko Tasaka
Lurana Tasaka, or Kikko as she is better known at Tonari Gumi, has been intimately involved with Tonari Gumi both as a staff member and then subsequently as a dedicated volunteer for more than 20 years.  She is a third generation sansei but has also experienced the wartime forced evacuation and so has a deep understanding of the Japanese Canadian community.  Kikko is a strong supporter of building a community where our seniors can feel “at home” and all members of the community can work together to reach out and help each other.

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